Late Summer Edition

Stocking Up
Wow has it been a summer around here. Since I last posted, The littlest fell on the kitchen floor and hit her head, causing a minor concussion, a week of vomiting, and two visits to the ER. In the midst of that chaos, our dryer stopped working, so we [thought we] had to buy a new one. After going through two brand new dryers, neither of which worked longer than 24 hours, we discovered it was a faulty wire in the wall. We fixed the wire, returned the second dryer, and purchased the one we wanted to begin with. Oh, AND we decided it was a good time to refinish our kitchen table as well.

But – despite it all, we managed to use or preserve for later all the produce we picked up every week from the farm. I’m not real sure how we did it … but we did. Over the last few weeks, here’s what we’ve been eating:

3 lbs Sweet Peppers
2 pints Shishito Peppers
1 1/2 lbs Okra
4 lbs rond de nice squash
3 pints Cherry Tomatoes
2 1/2 lb bags Sweet Potato Greens
3-4 small heads of Garlic
1 lb Potatoes
1 lb Eggplant
1 lb pattypan squash
1 lb Tomatoes

I also brought home a pound of green beans, a couple of pounds of eggplant, lots and lots of sweet peppers that had bad spots, and a bag full of pattypan squash and cucumbers that had worms in them. If you can stomach cutting out the worms, you end up with lots of free food to eat!

With all the wormy squash, we made this Herbed Squash Pasta Bake, a Herb Squash & Potato Torte (which freezes beautifully), and this Summer Squash Soup (also in the freezer). I pickled the cucumbers, and I cut the bad parts out of the peppers and stuck them in the freezer.

With the eggplant, we made ratatouille, and attempted a couple of other recipes that we just didn’t approve of. Hey – you win some, you lose some, right? I have a bag of eggplant in my fridge right now and I’m going to make this eggplant salad for our bruschetta bar dinner tomorrow night. Also on the bruschetta bar menu is tomato basil bruschetta using some of our cherry tomatoes.

I made a triple batch of these Stuffed Peppers – they can be frozen without cooking them first, so we ate one batch for dinner and I froze the rest for later. I also made a crustless quiche using the leftover stuffing and threw it in the freezer for a later date. It makes a great brunch or, paired with a salad or soup, a light dinner.

Roasted Okra – my girls can eat a pound of okra on their own. We cut it into little pieces, toss it in a little olive oil, add some salt & pepper, and roast it at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Super easy, quick, and delicious.

Speaking of easy side dishes, we made this tomato & green bean salad and it was amazing. It’s best right after you make it, but I ate leftovers for a couple of days and had no complaints!

Panzanella – I’ve been dying to try a panzanella recipe, so when I picked up some day old bread at a local bakery, I knew I would use it to make croutons. I combined this Smitten Kitchen recipe with this Weelicious recipe. It used some of our cherry tomatoes, some peppers, and a cucumber. Stay tuned for the results (and a possible recipe!)

Last week we made this Stuffed Rond de Nice Squash and froze it. I have three small ones in my fridge from this week’s pickup, and I’m honestly not quite sure what I’ll do with them yet. Maybe this gratin – we made it last week with some zucchini we picked up from the farmer’s market and it was so so good.

I’m going to attempt Spanikopita with the Sweet Potato Greens. Everything I’ve read said they have a similiar taste and texture to spinach, so I’m going to mix them with spinach. This Weelicious recipe is so great – the kids love it, and it’s easy to stick in the freezer.

For more CSA meal planning inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. Even when I don’t get time to write a post, I’m constantly pinning new things I want to try.

What have been your favorite summer meals this year?

Summer Week 3

purple pepper
You can tell it’s summertime when you pick up your CSA box this time of year. Lots of tomatoes, peppers, green beans, eggplant … all the best of summertime in the south. I can’t wait for okra to start making an appearance.

Here’s what we picked up this week:
1 lb Islander Peppers
1.5 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes
1 lb Green Beans
1 lb Eggplant
1.5 lbs Potatoes

I’m not sure how I ended up with so much eggplant in my fridge, but I had about 5 meals worth. After making my favorite eggplant parmesan last week, I started searching for new recipes that would use up my eggplant in new and creative ways. I found this Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella from Smitten Kitchen, which also used some tomatoes and carrots from last week’s share, but I screwed up the recipe and added twice as much chicken broth as it called for. The flavor is good – but we’re going to add some cooked sausage and top it with cheese, re-bake it, and see what happens.

We made these eggplant burgers last year, and they are surprisingly good. We make them slider size, because little fingers can pick them up easier than big ones. These eggplant meatballs are delicious too – and can be combined with a meat sauce or a simple marinara sauce, depending on what you fancy. They store well in the freezer too!

It’s been a hard sell convincing the rest of my family to eat eggplant regularly, so when the hubs and I agreed to try this Eggplant with Honey & Thyme, I was delighted to find something new and different. It was so good – and even good leftover! We had it with this Simple Potato Gratin using the potatoes from a couple of weeks ago. This is my new favorite way to eat eggplant.

Some people eat tomatoes raw and plain, but we don’t like a lot of raw tomatoes – so I have to find creative ways to use the tons and tons of tomatoes we’ve been getting. I take as many seconds quality tomatoes as I can – and so far we’ve made salsa, marinara sauce, two batches of tomato sauce, and three batches of gazpacho. I also attempted to can some crushed tomatoes – and learned a lot from the experience for next time.

This gazpacho is a great way to use cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. You can make it with or without jalapeno, depending on how spicy you like it. Traditionally, gazpacho is eaten cold, but I really like it warmed up just a little bit. We often cook some shrimp to go on the top, or you could also top it with chopped avocado.

We love roasting the green beans with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper. We used some of our potatoes to make these chips to go with our eggplant burgers.

Have you tried any new recipes this week??

Summer is Here!

Between celebrating a first birthday, buying a new freezer, and storing as much food as possible for winter, it’s been hard to find time to post around here! The tiniest is walking a little bit on her own and is climbing all over the place. Life with two toddlers is a completely different ballgame and it keeps me on my toes at all times. The hubby took Monday off this week and at the end of the day he looked at me and said, Well, I understand why you don’t write anymore.

Summer is here, which means beans, tomatoes, and eggplant. I haven’t been great at being creative so far this summer, which is probably part of the reason I haven’t posted lately. Anyhow – you’ll get three weeks in one this go round … so hopefully you’ll be able to find some inspiration for summer meals, and maybe even store some for later.

Here’s what we’ve been collecting these last few weeks:
4 lbs Potatoes
2 lbs Cucumber
4 lbs Rattlesnake Beans
3.5 lbs Eggplant
1 lb zucchini
3 pints of Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb baby Carrots
1 lb Tomatoes
3 oz Basil

And here’s what we’ve been using them for:

Veggie Lo Mein – I have been searching for a lo mein recipe that reminded me of true Chinese takeout, and this one fits the bill. I didn’t have broccoli, and I don’t like tofu, so we used green beans and carrots. It’s a great quick meal, and you can substitute whatever veggies you have on hand.

Roasted Ratatouille – this one served us well for two meals.

Vegetable Pot Pie – this one was SO good. I halved the recipe because I’m not a huge fan of leftover pot pie, but I wish I had made the entire recipe and frozen half of it for later. I used fresh green beans instead of asparagus because that’s what we had on hand, and added in some turnips because we still have a few in the fridge. It was amazing – and one I’ll definitely make again.

We ate a lot of our cherry tomatoes raw, but I just couldn’t keep up with them before they were going bad, so I put a batch of these slow roasted tomatoes in the oven. They are so great in pasta, in pasta salad, on pizza, in a sandwich, or just right out of the fridge.

We roasted some green beans, and we ended up freezing a couple of pounds for later. Green beans are one of those vegetables that we go through like crazy in winter, so I’m trying to stock up as many as I can.

We used some of our potatoes to make this simple potato gratin. I used quite a bit more cheese because I love cheesy potatoes. The rest of our potatoes are just hanging out in our pantry waiting for a day when I feel inspired to use them.

This quinoa crusted eggplant & zucchini parmesan is a great way to use up eggplant. This uses quite a bit of basil, so I was glad to get so much in our pickup this week! I doubled the recipe and made four square pans – two for our freezer, one for us, and one for our neighbor that just had a baby. We made garlic sourdough pretzels to go with it. I know eggplant parmesan feels like a fall or winter meal, but this one is SO worth heating up your kitchen.

I’ve been pickling all the cucumbers we get, and this is, by far, my favorite recipe I’ve found. I also pickled some turnips I had hanging out in the fridge and I was surprised by how much I liked them.

So that’s what we’ve been up to in the food department. What are your favorite meals using this early summer bounty??

Photo Credit

Spring Week 9

CSA Spring Week 9
It’s hard to believe our “Spring” CSA season is almost over. We’ve been attempting to put up as much of our produce as possible so we have fresh veggies in the dead of winter. Here’s what we picked up this week:
~2 lbs Cucumber
~1 lb Summer Squash (Zucchini or Yellow)
1 lb Snap Beans
1 small bunch of beets
~1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
6 oz Arugula

What we did with it:
Flounder in Parchment Paper – I keep frozen flounder on hand so we always have an easy meal option. I love cooking it in parchment paper because you can do a lot of different things with it – and it’s almost impossible to mess it up. This time I used this Food Network recipe, using zucchini, onion, and garlic from the CSA. It was so so good.

Pickles – A wanted to buy pickles at the store the other day, so I promised her we would make some with the next cucumbers we got from Farmer Erin. She loves helping in the kitchen, and she loves eating the pickles when they are finished. We made these bread and butter pickles, and two different batches of dill pickles – these and these – so we can figure out which one we like the best. I really want to can some pickles – but with E’s first birthday coming up, I just didn’t have time this week.

Quick Coq Au Vin – This one used some of our potatoes – and you could use CSA onions as well (although I used some Vidalias I had hanging out in the freezer). I loved it because it was quick but flavorful. It doesn’t quite compare to true coq au vin, but you can’t beat it for a super easy weeknight meal. I served it with a side of grapes and strawberries.

Mason Jar Salad – I have just learned the beauty that is a mason jar salad. Put it all together at the beginning of the week, and it’ll last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days! I made this Strawberry & Goat Cheese salad, using arugula instead of spinach and pecans instead of walnuts. But really – you can make this using anything you have lying around!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula – This recipe is one I keep in my back pocket for nights when the family wants to go out and do something and I need a really quick, easy clean-up meal. We ate it Saturday night before heading to the Zoo for Members Only Night. I can never go wrong with pasta in this house.

This Roasted Vegetable Pasta is good any night of the week – and any season. I used a carrot, zucchini, two turnips, & some mushrooms this time and everyone in the house ate it up.

I used the rest of our potatoes and our summer squash to make half of this Smitten Kitchen Torte recipe. We haven’t eaten it yet – I stuck it in the freezer for later – but it was super easy to make … and SK never lets me down.

I’ll be blanching and freezing our beet greens, arugula, & green beans this week.

Spring Week 8

We got home from picking up our goods from the farm and went straight to work on cooking, so I don’t have a picture to share this week. I promise to make up for it in the next post!

Our oven went kaput early last week so we never did get around to baking our Meatloaf. Did any of you try it? I’m dying to know how it was. Ours is hanging out in our freezer for another day.

This week we picked up:
~ 1.5 lbs Cucumber
~ 2 lbs Summer Squash
~ 1 lb Potatoes
1 bunch of Kale
1 bag Arugula
1 bag Hakurei Turnips
1 bag of mixed lettuce
4 oz onion

Here’s what we ate this week:
Grilled Turkey Burgers with Potato chips, Cucumber Salad and Fried Squash. This was the only way I would eat squash growing up, and when we talked about making burgers I just couldn’t resist making potato chips with half our potatoes and frying squash to go along with them. I made the Cucumber tomato salad to throw in something cold and extra healthy. I used one cucumber from our pickup with the few tomatoes we were able to salvage from our sad tomato plants. We’ve moved them to a neighbor’s yard who has more sun, so we’ll see if they make a comeback. Anyhow – to make the salad, I cut up the cucumber, about 5 cherry tomatoes, and used a little Romano Caesar Dressing I picked up from Trader Joe’s.

Tacos – Some nights you just need an easy meal. The night after our oven broke, we used some of our onions and the pound of grassfed beef I had stored in the freezer to make these tacos. I also made these refried beans using some white cannellini beans I had cooked earlier in the week instead of pinto beans.

Roasted Chicken & Vegetables with Sauteed Kale. Once we got our new oven(!), I used the rest of our potatoes for this. I didn’t add in some turnips, but I think it would be really good with them added in. To saute the kale, I simply cooked it in a little olive oil with garlic powder, salt, & pepper. Next time I’ll find a different recipe, because it was a little more bitter than I would have liked.

Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with a Side Salad. We were out late for a birthday party yesterday, so when we got home I added some leftover chicken to this easy Macaroni & Cheese recipe. I also made my favorite side salad with some lettuce, raisins, pecans, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

This Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake was perfect for tonight’s Meatless Monday meal. I substituted garlic scapes and a small spring onion for the scallions, but other than that made no changes. I tend to not mess too much with Smitten Kitchen recipes because she just knows what she’s talking about.

And tomorrow we’re having grilled shrimp with corn on the cob and an arugula pasta salad.

I’ve been eating the turnips raw because, yes, they are that good.

What are you cooking this week?

Teriyaki Lentils

After the birth of our second baby, we had an amazing outpouring of support in the form of a meal train. Meals were provided for us for over a month – and it was the best gift we ever could have received. We tried many new recipes, and I vowed to create a cookbook perfect for meal trains. I haven’t done that yet – but I have been collecting recipes!

This lentil recipe is one of our favorite ways to eat lentils – and it’s so easy to throw together at the last minute. It only takes about an hour to cook, and you can throw just about any vegetable in it. Just the other night I made it and used yellow potatoes, turnips, mushrooms, garlic scapes, and spring onions. You could also add in some greens for extra veggie power. I’d saute them until wilted and throw them in before serving, rather than cook them with everything else. Continue reading Teriyaki Lentils

Spring Week 6

CSA Week 6
We’re continuing our adventures in eating greens this week. Take a look at what we picked up:

1 bunch Red Radishes
1 bunch Red Russian Kale
1 bunch Vivid Choi Pac Choy
1 bag Yukina Savoy
1 lb Butter Lettuce Heads
1 bag Lettuce Mix
1 bunch beet greens with teeny tiny beets attached

I actually froze our kale, pac choy, and yukina savoy this week because I didn’t think we would eat them before they went bad. I’m trying to stock up as much as I can this CSA season so that I don’t have to buy much produce come winter. To freeze them, you just blanch in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes, then immediately put them in ice cold water for 3 minutes, then squeeze all the water out and put them in a freezer bag. I think they will go well in soups, stews, and maybe even stir fries. Continue reading Spring Week 6


CSA AdventuresThe holiday weekend really got in the way of my writing groove, and I’m so sorry to have kept you hanging for so long. Over the last two weeks we’ve picked up quite a bit of greens, but we’ve also had a few pops of color with radishes and turnips. I picked up some carrots and snow peas from the Farmer’s Market to give us a little more variety over the last couple of weeks. Continue reading Spring

Vegetable Paella

We’ve been trying to eat less meat around here, simply because local meat can be so expensive. We’ve made an exception to our “eat local” rule with chicken, but I try to buy whole organic chickens when they are on sale and stock them in my freezer. Alas – I digress.

I love when I find a meatless recipe that is hearty and versatile. We made this recipe many months ago (which is the picture you see above) with bell peppers and carrots. When I stared inside my vegetable drawer this time around, I saw a completely different mix of choices – so the recipe you see below is our “spring” version. You can mix and match vegetables as you choose and see fit, depending on what’s in season. There’s no need to run to the grocery store for this one … just pick your favorites from your CSA box or the farmer’s market and have at it! Continue reading Vegetable Paella